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Transgenic Trees under the Microscope

The Transtree project: focus on short-rotation coppice

In Austria no risk assessment exists for trees and forests in the event that it should come to a release of genetically modified trees in the Federal territory or in neighboring countries. The Transtree project deals with the specific risks and the potential impact of transgenic forest trees for decision-making in Austria.

The aim is to position Austria in time in the European decision-making process and to assert the interests of Austria as a country with a large percentage of forested area with regard to EU-wide marketing authorization. For this purpose, the challenges to environmental risk assessment shall be addressed, giving special attention to the four forest functions (production, protection, welfare and recreation).

Intensive discussions

At the international level, the special requirements of transgenic trees for environmental risk assessment are discussed more in detail, for example, when preparing international guidelines on the implementation of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.
The results concerning the potential impact of the cultivation of transgenic trees on the functions of the forest shall make it possible to provide a basis for the justification of cultivation restrictions of approved transgenic trees and for precautionary measures with regard to protected areas. The analyses are based on the Forest Development Plan and in cooperation with the forest land use planning of the Ministry of Life. In addition, studies are made in short-rotation coppice with fast growing tree species.